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The Chicago Blackhawks' lengthy losing streak and a scoreless drought may have been weighing on Martin Havlat's mind recently. Now that both are over, he'll try to help his team record its most points in four seasons.
Havlat and the Blackhawks host the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday in the final meeting between two last-place teams.
Chicago (28-40-9) has 65 points, matching its total from last season. With one more point in their final five games, the Blackhawks would have their highest total since posting 79 in 2002-03. They had dropped six straight entering Friday's contest, scoring only nine goals in that span, before beating the Columbus 3-1.
Havlat scored the go-ahead goal and added and assist. He leads the team with 25 goals and 56 points
"It's been pretty tough not to think about," said Havlat, who has a goal in each of his last three meetings with the Oilers. "I've never had that many games before (without a goal). I'm just happy I got that one tonight."
Chicago coach Denis Savard was also happy to see his top offensive performer get back on track.
"He cares a lot, but I told him he can only do so much," said Savard, whose team is concluding a six-game homestand and will play three of its final four games on the road. "I told him, 'Obviously, you're a big piece of our puzzle and our best player, but you can't do it alone. You need help from everybody."'
Defenseman Brent Seabrook provided some of that help Friday with three assists, one short of a career high. Backup goaltender Patrick Lalime stopped 31 shots, but struggling Nikolai Khabibulin could be back in goal for this game. Khabibulin is 0-5-0 with a 3.97 goals-against average in his last five starts, but is 3-1-1 with a 2.12 GAA in his last six meetings against the Oilers.
Edmonton (31-40-7) has won two of three meetings from Chicago this season, including a 2-1 victory in their most recent matchup on Feb. 9, but has done very little winning since.
With a 5-2 loss to St. Louis on Thursday, the Oilers have dropped three in a row and 15 of 16. They have been outscored 60-20 during that stretch.
Ales Hemsky and Mathieu Roy scored late in the first period Thursday to even the score at 2-2, but the Oilers allowed three unanswered and were outshot 28-8 over the final two periods.
"A game like that is an indication of where we are at right now, an inability to withstand the pressure that they had," said Oilers coach Craig MacTavish, whose team failed to make the playoffs after a run to the Stanley Cup finals last season. "Everyone had a hand in it and it was pretty disappointing."
The Oilers have scored only eight goals while losing a season-high six straight on the road. Edmonton will end its season with two games at Minnesota and one at Calgary.
|Apr 01 '07||EDM 1 at CHI 2||P. Sharp|
|Feb 09 '07||CHI 1 at EDM 2||S. Horcoff|
|Dec 10 '06||EDM 1 at CHI 4||B. Smolinski|
|Nov 24 '06||CHI 1 at EDM 5||M. Reasoner|